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ZoneAlarm Pro - Peace of Mind for You and Your PC

written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/4/2011
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ZoneAlarm Pro is an excellent Internet security suite that will safely and securely block a wide range of threats on your computer. Simple to install and set up, with an intuitive user interface that's easy to use, this software ran smoothly and effectively for me, online as well as offline.

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    Introduction

    With hacking tools becoming easy to use, even novice hackers can intrude into anyone’s computer to enact various forms of disruptive activity. But not if you have ZoneAlarm Pro's firewall security system installed on your computer.

    We all use the Internet extensively, but we're not always aware of the many threats to our PC in this world. A hacker can enter into your computer without your permission or knowledge and create havoc, changing your settings and stealing your data and confidential information like passwords, security codes, and so on.

    With ZoneAlarm Pro installed, you can keep your computer entirely safe from the intruders by using its Internet Zone option. If your computer is a part of a network, you can communicate with other computers without any hassles by using the option of Trusted Zone and still keep hackers at bay.

    The anti-spyware feature of this software keeps your applications and the operating system safe by killing or blocking spyware. It also prevents you from visiting websites that contain spyware.

    ZoneAlarm Pro is not accompanied by an antivirus feature, but it can monitor the effectiveness of another installed antivirus program. However, ZoneAlarm does have the capability to check for viruses in attachments in incoming or outgoing email.

    As you use ZoneAlarm Pro, you may find that the way some alert windows open again and again is annoying and difficult to understand, but soon you will get used to them and feel that they are meant for your benefit, as they help protect your crucial data and information. Having ZoneAlarm Pro installed in my computer gave me confidence and peace of mind about the security of my data.

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    Price to Value

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    What's Hot:

    ZoneAlarm Pro gives enables you to work on the Internet or a network without any worries about the security and confidentiality of your data. Many times we tend to avoid the safety of our computer due to sheer ignorance or trying to save a few bucks. This is true especially for security-related programs, as they don’t increase our productivity directly. But not using them could be very dangerous, especially for people who are using Internet extensively for personal as well as business purposes.

    You may have spent hundreds of dollars for your application software, but spending money on highly reliable software for security purposes is equally worth it. For $29.95 a year, getting complete security from hackers and spyware is a good value for the money.

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    Installation & Setup

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    The size of ZoneAlarm Pro security suite is only 15 MB and its installation is a breeze. During installation you are offered the option of registration, for which you will have to give your email address to enable you to receive the updates.

    Thereafter you are asked to scan the computer for any spyware already present there. This is optional but takes a few minutes, and then your computer has to be restarted. [See Images 1 and 2]

    When you restart the computer, you are asked if you would like to see the Flash tutorial, which explains the major features and the working of ZoneAlarm. [See Image 3]

    Then you have to select the security level for your computer by choosing either the Internet Zone or Trust Zone setting [see image 4]. If you are using the computer in a public place, like a hotel or airport, the first option is suitable for you so that no intruders would be able to enter your computer and share data. On the other hand, if you are using the computer on your home or office network, where you have to share the data with other computers, you must select the second option. If you wish, you can also name the network in which you are using the computer.

    The whole process, barring scanning, takes a minute or two and you are then ready to use ZoneAlarm.

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    User Interface

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    What's Hot:

    The highlight of ZoneAlarm Pro is its sleek, smooth, and intuitive user interface. In a single main window, all the features of the software are displayed and explained. [See Image 5]

    When you click a feature, its window opens and you are told about its function and importance in a short but complete manner. In each of these windows you can see tabs that offer you additional options or enable you to change settings.

    At the top of the main window you can see the mode of security selected, the status of the Internet connection, and software that is running on your computer. From here you can also shut off the Internet quickly by pressing the red button in case of emergency. [See Image 5] The highly effective Flash tutorial and intuitive user interface makes understanding and using ZoneAlarm easy.

    What's Not:

    A number of small pop-up alert windows kept opening now and then for various reasons. For instance, if a program tries to access the Internet, the alert window opens seeking your permission. Say you've been allowing an antivirus program to access the Internet for a long time because it needs to update regularly and has to monitor your emails. Suddenly, when you are being asked for permission, you get confused as to whether you should allow it or not. This also happens for a number of other programs that have been accessing the Internet safely without your knowledge. In fact, most of the time we don’t care about any programs accessing the Internet. When these windows keep on popping up you may start feeling frustrated and confused. [See Images 6-8]

    To get rid of these problems, select the proper settings in ZoneAlarm, which you will soon start learning. Soon you will also realize that the permissions being asked for now and then are for your benefit.

    Also, the alert windows are too dense, carrying a lot of info that may not be necessary for general users. Either the detail in the windows should be reduced or there should be option for selecting the way these windows should be displayed; i.e., with full details or partial details.

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    Product Features

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    The strength of ZoneAlarm Pro is in its versatile and highly effective features, which are easy to understand and use. As soon as the software starts, you are asked what level of security is desired. If you are working in a public place it is safe to choose the Internet Zone option so that no one will be able to share the data with your computer, but at the same time you can access the Internet without any hindrance. When you select the option of Trusted Zone, you can share data with others in the network or even on the Internet. [See Image 4] As soon as you select these firewall settings, your computer is protected. [See Image 9]

    The Program Control feature of ZoneAlarm helps you prevent malicious software from hijacking your trusted software. [See Image 10] From here you can set which programs are permitted to access the Internet. [See Image 11] By default, ZoneAlarm has some programs in its database that are permitted to access the Internet, but you can always add new ones and remove others.

    The Anti-Spyware feature prevents you from visiting websites that contain spyware. [See Image 12] The names of these sites are stored in the software, and you always change the settings if you want to visit those sites. This feature protects your application programs as well as the operating system. From time to time you can scan your computer for the presence of any spyware.

    Though ZoneAlarm Pro is not accompanied by any antivirus features, you can monitor the progress of other software from the main window of ZoneAlarm. [See Image 13] However, let me inform you that there are some antivirus programs like Avast, which I have installed on my computer, that cannot be monitored by ZoneAlarm.

    ZoneAlarm comes with MailSafe, an antivirus supplement that helps you against the unknown viruses in incoming and outgoing emails. [See Image 14] The Privacy feature helps you get rid of cookies and clear applications' cache. [See Image 15]

    These days, we visit many websites like ebay.com for business purposes. You can save confidential information about passwords for such sites in “myVAULT.” Whenever a site tries to access a websites with this confidential data, you are alerted. [See Images 16 and 17]

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    Performance

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    What's Hot:

    Initially, I was apprehensive of using ZoneAlarm, as I was told that the alert windows keep on popping up again and again and you will get tired of answering them. I felt this would reduce my productivity and raise unnecessary concerns. I was also told that I wouldn’t be able to uninstall the software, and that if I wanted to remove it I would have to format my operating system.

    Before installing the software, I tried to understand it thoroughly by reading about its features and watching the Flash tutorial carefully, which really paid off well. As soon as I installed ZoneAlarm I was in a position to use it and make appropriate settings. I could easily understand the user interface and various features. There were no hiccups and no bad effect on my productivity. I was also able to uninstall the software without any difficulty.

    Whenever some hacker tried to enter my computer, ZoneAlarm protected against it.The firewall window opened, informing me that I had been protected.

    Now and then I got program alerts seeking my permission to allow a program to access the Internet. This is to prevent unauthorized programs from entering your computer and making changes to the operating system or application programs.

    The software kept on performing well without any obstacles. All my fears about ZoneAlarm are gone and it is now an integral part of my computer.

    What's Not:

    The small alert windows seeking your permission can be troubling in the beginning, but their frequency can be reduced by making proper settings in Program Control. Once you start understanding the alerts, you will find them useful. It is these alerts that are the essence of ZoneAlarm, as they actually keep your computer safe and secured.

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    Help & Support

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    There is an excellent tutorial right in the beginning explaining the features and workings of ZoneAlarm Pro, which makes using the software easy. [See Image 3] The help further answers your many questions. The paid telephone support and ZoneAlarm user forum can help you solve various queries.

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    Images

    Last Step of Installation ProcessCompletion of Scanning ProcessFirst Window after restarting the ComputerSelect the Security Level for your ComputerMain Window of ZoneAlarmPop-up Window - 1 asking QuestionPop-up Window - 2 asking QuestionPop-up Window - 3 asking QuestionFirewall Window of ZoneAlarmProgram Control Window of ZoneAlarmProgram Control Window Showing Various Program Permitted to Access InternetAnti-Spyware Window of ZoneAlarmAnti-Virus Monitoring Window of ZoneAlarmEmail Protection Window of ZoneAlarmPrivacy Setting Window of ZoneAlarmIdentity Protection Window of ZoneAlarmmyVAULT Window in Identity Protection
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    Suggested Features

    • The alerts opening in pop-up windows should carry less detail.
    • There should be option of seeing complete details or partial details in these alert windows.
    • When an alert window opens, it should also carry instructions to explain what changes in the settings will help prevent these alerts from opening again and again.
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    Conclusion

    ZoneAlarm Pro is easy-to-use security software that prevents intruders from stealing information from your computers. You can keep your data confidential and still use the Internet without any interruptions to your usual workflow. The anti-spyware feature of ZoneAlarm prevents you from visiting sites that contain spyware. Your applications and operating system are safeguarded from unauthorized programs from the Internet. With ZoneAlarm Pro, your operating system and all application software remain safe and secure from outsiders.

    The essence of ZoneAlarm Pro is in its firewall and the Program Control alerts, which will periodically pop up. Initially, you may find them troubling, but soon you will realize that these alerts mean you're being protected from Internet threats. If you are using the Internet extensively for personal or business purposes, the firewall security ZoneAlarm Pro provides is a must-have.

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    Related Products

    Norton Personal Firewall, McAfee Firewall Plus